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Juan Ayuso: catch me if you can


This guy has talent to spare, that is a well-known fact. And so is his status as one of the main favourites to win this Tirreno-Adriatico 2024. But that Juan Ayuso could actually edge out TT specialist Filippo Ganna in a totally flat 10-kilometre time trial was frankly hard to imagine. Let’s be clear, the young Spaniard has all the qualities to be a good time triallist, given that two of the five victories in his young career have come in this type of competition, namely at the Tour of Romandie and the Tour of Switzerland. However, in Lido di Camaiore, the competition was quite different and the route, at least on paper, was more suited to pure specialists rather than to climber-rouleurs like him. To the surprise of many, Ayuso set a time of 11’24’’, which couldn’t be bettered, and which puts him in the mix for the overall title.

If anyone could ruin plans to win the first Maglia Azzurra for Filippo Ganna, that seemed to be the overwhelming Tirreno-Adriatico favourite Jonas Vingegaard (Team Visma | Lease a Bike) and not the Iberian of UAE Team Emirates. The Dane – 7 months after his monstrous performance against the clock in the last Tour de France, in which he beat Pogačar by 1’38” and Van Aert by 2’51” – took 9th place, 22″ behind the winner.

Those who therefore expected Vingegaard to pretty much have half of Tirreno-Adriatico in his pocket after the opening time trial were largely disappointed. Jonas’ next challenge will be to oust Juan Ayuso from his throne, and that won’t be easy. Vingegaard will certainly attack at the first useful opportunity, he might wait until the first really hard stage, the fifth, finishing in Valle Castellana, but he could also try to move earlier, perhaps taking advantage of the formidable squad lined up in his support.

And what about the other big GC names? Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) pulled off one of the best time trials of his career, only two seconds slower than Vingegaard, with teammates Lennard Kämna and Daniel Martinez also close behind. Not to mention the young and ambitious Max Poole (dsm-firmenich PostNL), Antonio Tiberi (Bahrain Victorious) and Kevin Vauquelin (Arkéa-B&B Hotels), all matching the Dane’s times.

In short, Ayuso is in for an intense week, which he starts off by looking down on everyone. His Maglia Azzurra is coveted by a large group of stunning riders ready to give their best to close the margin. So, let’s sit back and enjoy the show, it’s going to be a fun week.

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